Cannabis sales must avoid mistakes made by alcohol deregulation

University of Alberta professor Dr. Elaine Hyshka says the Alberta government needs to make sure it sets proper regulations for looming cannabis legalization.

University of Alberta professor Dr. Elaine Hyshka says the Alberta government needs to make sure it sets proper regulations for looming cannabis legalization. (The Canadian Press)

As the province begins developing a framework for legalizing cannabis, a University of Alberta doctor said she hopes Alberta learns from past mistakes with alcohol deregulation.

Dr. Elaine Hyshka said the government has some decisions to make before legalization takes place on July 1.

“I’ll be watching to see how government maintains control over things like price, advertising and marketing, the density of outlets and other factors that really are critical for really trying to encourage moderate use,” Hyshka told CBC’s Radio Active Wednesday.

Hyshka is speaking at the University of Alberta Thursday about what the Cannabis Act means for Canadians. The presentation at 5 p.m. will be livestreamed on their website.

She said Alberta’s cannabis price point can’t be so low people are encouraged to use it, nor can it be so high that users turn to the black market for cheaper prices.

Ontario has proposed a $10 per gram price, which, with the proposed federal tax plan, would cost $11 in Alberta. A mid-level dealer in Calgary told CBC News in October that he typically sells for anywhere between $6 and $8 a gram.

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci has rejected the federal cannabis tax plan and the Alberta government has not set a price yet.

Hyshka said she’ll also be watching how many stores selling cannabis will be allowed in a particular area. She said the amount of liquor stores on every corner, some of which are open until 2 a.m., is a mistake the government shouldn’t repeat.

Elaine Hyshka

Hyshka says restrictions should be placed on marketing and advertising cannabis. (CBC )

“Although cannabis as a substance is less harmful than alcohol, we’d be wanting to see some new restrictions put in place that really set the standard for how we regulate psychoactive substances,” she said.

She also hopes marketing of the product is restricted to prevent influencing a new generation of cannabis users.

“[Hopefully, we] don’t go out of the way to stimulate a new market or stimulate a new demand for what is not a harmless substance,” she said.

Cannabis still ‘liberally available’

Hyshka said that though there are documented benefits of cannabis, such as for those in chronic pain, that doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful — or, in the case of impaired driving, dangerous.

But she said concerns raised recently by the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police about impaired driving, while valid, are not new.

“It’s important to remember that cannabis is liberally available right now through the illegal market and many people are using it and some people are driving while impaired,” she said.

“Enforcing cannabis impaired driving or other sorts of infractions is not new.”

But Hyshka and the police chiefs place importance on a common, primary goal: discouraging those who don’t use cannabis from starting.

“I think that’s a main objective,” she said. “[And] if you are going to engage in cannabis use, how can you do so responsibly in a way that is going to try to, as much as possible, protect your health.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/cannabis-marketing-advertising-legalization-1.4415063

Health warnings, plain covers for pot packs under proposed regs

OTTAWA — Health Canada offered hints Tuesday about the government’s plans for legal pot, including, plain packaging and stern, stark health warnings like those found on tobacco products.

The department released a set of proposed regulations that, among other things, would limit colours and graphics on cannabis packs and establish a system to trace pot through the distribution system.

It said the warnings should highlight risks, including the dangers associated with cannabis use during pregnancy, drug-impaired driving and what can happen when alcohol is mixed with marijuana.

The department’s so-called consultation paper is now open to public feedback for the next two months.

Speaking outside the House of Commons, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said the government is studying other proposals including a tracking system to monitor the cannabis supply chain and help prevent pot being diverted into and out of the legal market.

Health Canada also said Tuesday the proposals seek to elaborate on elements including what can be displayed on a package and what can’t, including anything that might entice youngsters.

“Text and graphics used in brand elements could not be appealing to youth and would be subject to the packaging and labelling restrictions in the proposed Cannabis Act,” the department said.

“Health Canada is also considering establishing standards (such as limiting use of colour and size) of these brand elements.”

Government officials said late Tuesday the proposals attempt to elaborate on what can be displayed on a package to ensure the legal industry can keep itself distinct from the black market, while competing with it.

Producers would be allowed to display brand elements, the officials confirmed, saying they are talking to legal producers about packaging.

The officials also said Health Canada sees its plans as consistent with what the federally appointed task force on pot legalization recommended: plain and standard packaging.

The proposed regulations would also require that cannabis workers get valid security clearances issued by the minister of health. Individuals with connections to organized crime, or criminal records or shady associates could be denied clearances.

Earlier Tuesday, Statistics Canada said it plans to start measuring the economic and social impacts of recreational pot — even before it becomes legal.

The agency said it wants to gradually develop the capabilities to capture and report information on non-medical cannabis.

It says collecting data both before and after marijuana becomes legal will allow Canadians, governments and businesses to form a clearer picture of the economic and social consequences of lawful pot.

The Liberals also faced criticism from the opposition Tuesday for limiting debate on their cannabis legislation, which is currently before the House of Commons.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould defended the move, saying the government has long been up front with the House and with Canadians about the plan to legalize pot by July 2018.

Health warnings, plain covers for pot packs under proposed regs

Many People Don’t Seem To Know That Taking Prescription Drugs Could Impair Their Driving

More than 45 million Americans will travel by car over the Thanksgiving holiday, AAA predicts, and a new study suggests that about one out of five of those behind the wheel will have taken a prescription drug that could impair their driving.

On top of that, many of them aren’t aware of the risk.

The study authors used data from the most recent National Roadside Survey (NRS), conducted in 2013-2014 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to determine what proportion of drivers had been warned that the medication their doctor prescribed could impair their performance. Data were collected from randomly selected drivers at 60 different U.S. locations.

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Drivers 16 and older were eligible to participate in the voluntary, anonymous survey about alcohol and drug use. Those who agreed to be surveyed were also asked to provide a breath sample to measure alcohol content and a saliva sample for drug testing.

The 2013-2014 NRS was the second to ask drivers about drug use but the first to ask whether the drug had been prescribed for them and, if so, whether they’d been warned that it could impair their driving. Those who reported taking a prescribed, potentially impairing medication within the previous two days were then asked if they had been warned that it could affect their driving.

These are the categories of potentially impairing prescription drugs covered by the survey and some examples of them:

  • Antidepressants (Prozac, Zoloft, Wellbutrin).
  • Methadone and buprenorphine (Subutex, Suboxone), opioids that are used in medication-assisted treatment of substance use disorders.
  • Morphine or codeine, which are prescription opioids for pain.
  • Other prescription opioids (OxyContin and Vicodin), also used to treat pain.
  • Barbiturates (phenobarbital).
  • Benzodiazepines, which are tranquilizers (Xanax and Valium).
  • Muscle relaxants (Soma and Flexeril).
  • Sleep aids (Ambien and Lunesta).
  • ADHD medications (Ritalin, Aderall and Concerta).
  • Other amphetamines (Benzadrine and Dexedrine).
  • Prescription diet pills (Tenuate and phentermine).

Except for the last three types of drugs, the medications on this list could impair drivers by sedating them. Experimental studies have shown that certain tranquilizers have a substantially higher risk of impairment than alcohol and that opioids have a risk comparable to that of alcohol, the researchers write.

On the other hand, ADHD medications and other amphetamines as well as prescription diet pills are stimulants, which can influence attention, aggressiveness and risk-taking, the study authors write. You likely won’t fall asleep behind the wheel if you take a stimulant, but you could end up taking unnecessary risks while driving.

A total of 7,405 drivers answered the prescription drug questions on the NRS, and 19.7% of them reported taking a potentially impairing prescription drug within the previous two days. Of those who had, four out of five of them, or 78.2%, to be exact, said the drug had been prescribed for them, so there had been an opportunity for a physician or a pharmacist to talk about the risk of impaired driving.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ritarubin/2017/11/21/many-people-dont-seem-to-know-that-taking-prescription-drugs-could-impair-their-driving/#26429d5e35c4

The Drunkest City in Every State: Colorado

Source: Thinkstock

6. Colorado
> Drunkest city: Fort Collins, CO
> MSA adults binge or heavy drinking: 21.0% (top 25%)
> State adults binge or heavy drinking: 19.1% (15th highest)
> Alcohol related driving deaths: 30.6%

Home to Colorado State University, Fort Collins is a midsize college city located along the Cache La Poudre River in Colorado’s Front Range. College students drink more than nearly any other group. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 3 in 5 U.S. college students aged 18 to 22 drink alcohol. In the Fort Collins metro area, some 11.6% of the population are enrolled in college or graduate school — nearly the largest share in Colorado — and 21.0% of adults drink to excess or binge drink, the largest share in the state.

The Drunkest City in Every State

Man in Care Bear costume charged with DWI on moped

Keith Hurley
Keith Hurley 

A Morganton man dressed in a Care Bear onesie was charged with driving while impaired Saturday after an officer spotted him driving his moped without its lights on, according to an arrest report.

Officer E.W. Connor with the Morganton Department of Public Safety was driving on West Union Street around 4 a.m. when he noticed the moped, driven by Keith William Hurley, 39, coming toward him in the opposite lane, the report said.

Connor noticed Hurley was wearing a black helmet and a light blue fleece onesie, “which was later determined to be a care bear costume,” the report said.

Hurley turned into the First Baptist Church parking lot on West Union Street after Connor turned around to stop him, the report said.

When Connor pulled into the parking lot and drove toward Hurley, he noticed him digging underneath the moped’s seat, the report said.

Connor asked why Hurley did not have his lights on, and he replied that he had a short, the report said. Hurley said he had a DOT-approved flashlight he was attaching to the front of his moped.

Connor noticed the onesie Hurley was wearing was a Grumpy Bear Care Bear costume, the report said. The costume was unzipped almost to his waist, and Hurley had glitter on his face and chest, the report said.

Hurley told Connor that he was coming from work at a downtown eatery, where he is a manager, the report said. Hurley told the officer his work was having a Halloween event, and that’s why he was dressed like a Care Bear.

Connor noticed alcohol on Hurley’s breath and that his eyes were red and glossy, the report said. Hurley said he had a couple of beers at a downtown bar and had been sitting at the bar to sober up, the report said.

Hurley also told Connor he thought he was sober enough to leave the bar and that he knew the lights didn’t work, the report said. He thought it was fine because he was “only a few blocks from home,” the report said. Google Maps, however, lists his home as being 3 miles away from the bar, the report said.

Hurley attempted field sobriety tests, but “performed poorly,” the report said.

Connor charged Hurley with driving while impaired, the report said.

“Was there something wrong with my driving,” Hurley asked, according to the report. “You saw I was driving fine.”

While at a local jail, Hurley refused to take a breath test, the report said. Hurley said that because his license already was suspended, he did not see a reason to consent to the test, the report said.

A search warrant was granted to Connor to get a sample of Hurley’s blood, the report said. Hurley said he would not consent to the blood draw either and that officers would have to “strap him down,” the report said.

“It is my body, and you have no right to take blood from me,” Hurley said, according to the report.

Officers explained that they had the right to take his blood because of the warrant, the report said.

“I’m not consenting to a sample, but I will not fight,” Hurley said, according to the report.

Connor transported Hurley to the magistrate’s office, where he was given a $1,000 bond, the report said. He was then placed in a local jail, the report said.

http://www.morganton.com/news/man-in-care-bear-costume-charged-with-dwi-on-moped/article_1b380eaa-bdac-11e7-8063-fb27c95c07e9.html

Man arrested, alleged to have had over 1 lb. of marijuana, DUID

A Fort Collins, Colorado man is facing charges of felony Possession of a Controlled Substance- Marijuana in Natrona County, after Troopers say they found over a pound of marijuana in his vehicle.According to court paperwork 33-year-old Ira Whitney was taken into custody, during the late night hours of November 16th.

Highway Patrol Troopers say that Whitney was observed driving a black Pontiac G6, on I-25, near milepost 184. Reports say that the Pontiac was observed going 90 mph, in a posted 80 mph zone.

Troopers say that they further observed the Pontiac fail to maintain it’s lane of travel while driving.

A stop was initiated and an arrest affidavit says that when the Pontiac pulled over it struck the curb, and the driver stopped the car with the vehicle’s front passenger tire parked on the curb.

Troopers contacted Whitney and note that they could smell an odor of marijuana and alcohol about the suspect’s person. Troopers also report seeing a black canister labeled “THC,” and a multi-colored glass pipe with suspected marijuana in the bowl. The affidavit says that both the canister and the pipe were in plain view on the passenger seat.

When questioned, Troopers say that Whitney admitted to having a gram of marijuana in the vehicle, and saying that his last drink had been a rum and cola, at a bar in Fort Collins, two hours before the stop. Whitney further advised that he worked at the bar.

Whitney was taken into custody, and a subsequent search of the vehicle yielded an open Bud Light bottle that was described as “cool to the touch,” found in between the passenger seat and center console. Further, Troopers report finding a six pack of Bud Light in the car, with two of the bottles removed.

In the trunk of the vehicle Troopers discovered approximately 1.2 pounds of suspected marijuana, divided up between four separately packaged vacuum sealed bags.

After a field sobriety test, Whitney was placed under arrest just after midnight.

During his initial appearance in Natrona County Circuit Court, Whitney was charged with Felony Possession of Marijuana and Driving While Under the Influence. Whitney’s bond was set at $10,000 cash or surety.

All of those cited or arrested are presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law. Charges are subject to change following official filings from the Natrona County District Attorney’s Office.

https://oilcitywyo.com/